Tibetan self-immolations top 20 as repression escalates

se rule, Radio Free Asia reported Feb. 9. Yeshe Rigsal, a monk, and his brother had taken part in a Jan. 23 protest in the predominantly Tibetan county of Luhuo in Sichuan province that turned violent when police shot dead at least one person. The incident came a day after a 19-yr-old Tibetan set himself alight in Sichuan’s Ngaba county, and an unidentified monk in his 30s set himself on fire in Tridu county, Keygudo Autonomous Prefecture (Chinese: Chenduo county, Yushu Autonomous Prefecture) of Qinghai province. The youth in Ngaba apparently lived, as security forces arrived and doused the flames, although he is hospitalized and his survival seems doubtful. Identified as Rinzin Dorjee (AKA Rikpe), he self-immolated at his school in Ngaba town, where 13 Tibetans have now set themselves on fire. The new incidents brought to 22 the number of Tibetans who had immolated themselves while protesting against Chinese rule since February 2009. Eight of the self-immolations have taken place this year. (Channel News AsiaPhayulTibetan Review, Feb. 10; TCHRD, Feb. 9)

The self-immolation in Qinghai took place during day-long prayer gathering took place at the county stadium under close watch from Chinese security forces. While reciting prayers, participants in the gathering also shouted slogans such as “Freedom for Tibet” and “Long live the Dalai Lama!” When armed soldiers and policemen closed in, the participants reportedly shouted “Kyi Hi Hi,” a traditional Tibetan battle cry, in defiance,—causing the soldiers and police to retreat and watch the scene from a distance. (Tibetan Review, Feb. 10)

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